Ascot Racecourse

Ascot King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes star-studded line-up

By Andrew Atkinson

A star-studded line-up heads for Ascot on Saturday for QIPCO King George Diamond Day with 14,000 spectators set to be in attendance following the relaxation of Covid-19 restrictions.

Love (6-5f), Adayar (2-1), and Mishriff (8-1) are amongst stars going to post in the 6 runners 1m 3f King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes with the winner getting an expenses-paid slot to the Breeders’ Cup Turf this fall at Del Mar.

Derby winner Adayar lines up – with form underlined by Hurricane Run winning the Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris, and Bolshoi Ballet, winner of the Belmont Derby.

Mishriff has had the King George pencilled in by co-trainers John and Thady Gosden with the Eclipse, the Juddmonte International, the Arc and the King George on the radar.

Epsom Oaks winner Love – tipped by – trained by Aidan O’Brien, added the G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot to an already outstanding CV. Ballydoyle based O’Brien also saddles Group 1 winner Broome (25-1). Lone Eagle (7-1) trained by Martyn Meade also goes to post.

Ted Voute, racing manager to owner Prince Faisal, said: “I talked to John after Mishriff worked on Saturday and he was very happy with him.

“It has very much been left up to John where he runs next and, having discussed it with the Prince, Ascot looks the likely target.

“I thought Mishriff was a bit gassy at Sandown in the first half of the race, which happens to a lot of horses after some time off, and I just wondered whether he needed a race under his belt to get him spot on. He seemed to run very well backing up from Saudi to Dubai.

“I think it is going to take a very good horse to beat Love. We want to win a Group 1 in England with Mishriff and you can’t win one unless you run in them.

“He has beaten some very good horses from around the world – now is the time to see what he can do against the big battalions from England and Ireland in particular.”

2020 G1 QIPCO Champion Stakes winner Addeybb trained by William Haggas and British Champions Day winner Wonderful Tonight (14-1) trained by David Menuisier, who won the G2 Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot on her reappearance are amongst the runners.

“We will probably be at half capacity for the King George. We are expecting something around 14,000 or 15,000.

“It is looking like being a vintage running of the race, and if the weather holds it should be a fantastic day.

“This is what the King George is all about. We will have the race of the season, which is what it should be. We are looking forward to it,” said Nick Smith, Director of Racing and Public Affairs at Ascot.

Speaking to the media in Lambourn, absentee Pyledriver trainer William Muir said: “We did exactly the same as before the Coronation Cup; we went over to Charlie’s Hills gallops and Martin Dwyer rode him, he was delighted with him, he went magnificently.

“It was not a hard piece of work, but the way he came through it was fantastic. I walked off the gallops thinking, ‘It will take a good horse to stop this’.

“I walked across to meet him coming across the road, he was bouncing and bobbing and kicking, I thought then this horse has never been better, I couldn’t have him better. Martin came back and said, ‘He is in such a good place’.

“He was washed down, put in the box, he had a roll, everything was fine, he never took a funny step anywhere, then in the evening my head girl rung me, I was at Newbury races, and said, ‘Pyledriver is just not quite right on his off hind’.

“My vet came out while I was still at Newbury, and he felt that he was sore up in the groin area and we were thinking could he have pulled his groin?

“The vet then came out again on Sunday morning and there is obviously pain there.

“We are hoping it is a groin injury, but we are going to make sure we don’t leave any stone unturned. So we will X-ray his tibia, if there is nothing there, we will scan his pelvis, I don’t think it is, but it will put my mind at rest. Then we can go from there and will know it is soft tissue.

“You can’t have any setback to win a Group 1, in fact, forget Pyledriver, if there is any setback, even if it is the lowest-rated horse in the yard, I won’t run the horse if there is any doubt in my mind.

“I am not going to put the horse under pressure. If it is something simple, and we will know in three days, we will wait and go to the Juddmonte International.

“If it is something that we need to give him four to five weeks, then he will have his break and go to some of those races at the end of season – the Arc, the Breeders’ Cup, the Japan Cup – there are so many options.

“The worst thing is if you don’t take notice of what you’ve got now then all of a sudden you’ve got a serious problem. I can’t take any chances with any horse. I am always cautious, more than anything else. It is very slight and he has never taken a lame step in his life. I am gutted to be honest.

“I know Love is very good. I’d have taken anything on. When he came off the gallops, I promise you I thought, ‘Whatever beats him will win’.

“I thought he’d win it, to be honest, I really did. I know they are great horses, the Derby winner is a very good horse, probably one of the best; I am not even going to be part of it anymore, it is tough.

“I have never been so excited about a race, Saturday morning I was doing somersaults coming off the gallops. That evening it was just a strain driving back from Newbury, have I slept since? Not really.

“It looks a fantastic race. Love is a great filly. The Derby winner was mightily impressive, but the ground is going to be different than Epsom; the ground wouldn’t have worried me.

“We have had a great run with him, not just this year, as a two-year-old, three-year-old and now. We will return. He will stay in training next year. We can go back for the King George next year.”

ASCOT selections: 1.15 Cachet. 1.50 Desert Dreamer. 2.25 Last Generation. 3.00 Matthew Flinders (ew); Dance Fever (ew). 3.35 Love. 4.10 Zuba. 4.45 Zlatan

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